The Careful Undressing of Love, by Corey Ann Haydu

the-careful-undressing-of-loveI’m a big Corey Ann Haydu fan. I know I’ve written here about my love for OCD Love Story and Life By CommitteeI started reading her because I wanted to read books from alumni of my MFA program, but soon she became a must-read author for me. I’ve also met Corey a few times, and she’s always been delightful. All of these factors, plus the drop-dead beautiful cover, made me extra excited to open this book on my flight to LA earlier this week. It wasn’t a surprise that I quickly lost myself in the nuanced characters, smooth writing style, and world building. The book is set in an America where recent history has followed a different path. After terrorist attacks, people are obsessed with superstition and commemorating victims. The book jacket can explain the story setup better than me: Everyone who really knows Brooklyn knows Devonairre Street girls are different. They’re the ones you shouldn’t fall in love with. The ones with the curse. The ones who can get you killed. Lorna Ryder is a Devonairre Street girl, and for years, paying lip service to the curse has been the small price of living in a neighborhood full of memories of her father, one of the thousands killed five years earlier in the 2001 Times Square Bombing. Then her best friend’s boyfriend is killed, and suddenly a city paralyzed by dread of another terrorist attack is obsessed with Devonairre Street and the price of falling in love.

In light of the recent political climate, this was an especially interesting take on America’s culture of remembrance, creation of “the other”, and response to terrorism. It uniquely explores ideas of control, group mentality, and the need for blame. The girls have superstitions enforced by the neighborhood, like never cutting their hair or wearing keys around their necks, that help solidify them as group. These traditions also make them easily identifiable to outsiders, setting them apart as objects of interest, notoriety, and fear.

I love how the book doesn’t directly answer if the curse is real or not. The reader is kept guessing. More important is whether or not the characters believe. Lorna goes back and forth a few times revealing belief as a spectrum not a binary system. Her feelings are complicated and wrapped up in questions about her father, her friends, her boyfriend, and her friend that’s a boy – but who is very, very dreamy.

Just like Lorna tackles big questions about her life, this book takes on big questions about love, grief, community, fear, gender roles, and more. It is romantic, tragic, and almost mythic. A lovely story to lose myself in on a long plane ride!

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s